I received this through the Air Force email grapevine. I can’t vouch for its authenticity; if anybody was there or knows of a differing view, make a note in the comments, and I’ll post an update accordingly.
That said, the story rings true, in my opinion:
Last Wednesday we were in Colorado Springs for the AF Academy graduation; featured speaker was George W. Bush. A little long winded, but the speech was punctuated with a lot of applause, which suggested that a lot of the military brass in attendance support him. However, what was more impressive to me was the fact that he personally saluted and congratulated every single cadet that crossed the stage, my son included. There were nearly 1000 cadets and this process took 1 hour, 40 minutes. I watched him through my zoom, and he displayed the personal touch all the way through: every cadet was saluted; the men were then given a hand shake and often a pat on the shoulder with his left hand or some other personal words; the women were all given a hug and some of the women cadets also gave him a kiss on the check. Occasionally a cadet would ask for a “wave to my parents” and then the cadet and the president would turn to the crowd and wave in the correct direction. He showed as much enthusiasm to the middle and last cadets as to the first ones — in fact, he looked like he was enjoying himself!
At the Academy graduation, the “top 10%” are noted as Distinguished Graduates (known as “DG’s” — the Academy doesn’t have summa, magna cum laude, etc.) and they graduate first. The rest of the graduates walk across by squadron (36 squadrons). 5 years ago when Clinton was there, he only personally congratulated the DG’s (takes about 10 minutes) and then he sat down. Bush was offered the same option, but refused — said he wanted to recognize every single graduate. This is the stuff about the man that never makes the news….
Here’s a link to Bush’s address, there’s also a video clip at the page.
UPDATE: A picture-laden page at the Colorado Springs Gazette confirms that Bush personally greeted every AFA graduate. Thanks to reader Eric Morisset for the heads-up and the link.